Assemblyman Andy Goodell, Sen. Cathy Young, Dunkirk Mayor Anthony J. Dolce, and others are working closely together in a bipartisan manner to convince Governor Andrew Cuomo to back the proposed $700 million NRG conversion from coal to natural gas.
"This is not a Republican or a Democrat project," noted Goodell. "It is a strong bipartisan effort to do everything possible to help the NRG project move forward."
Earlier this summer, Goodell and Young invited Dolce to meet with them and some of Cuomo's top staff in Albany to lobby for the NRG project. The meeting was arranged by Young. Goodell personally drove Dolce to the Albany meeting.
Goodell was complimentary to both Young and Dolce.
"Using her incredible influence in Albany, Sen. Young was able to get the right people together for this important meeting. Sen. Young and I focused on the impact of this project on the economy, jobs, taxes, and the environment. Mayor Dolce did an excellent job in presenting the seriousness of the issues facing the city of Dunkirk and the Dunkirk School system if this project does not move forward."
NRG currently makes payments-in-lieu-of taxes (PILOT) to county government and the Dunkirk city and school system. The amount of these payments is based on the amount of electricity produced at the NRG plant. If the plant closes completely, there would be no PILOT payments to any local governments.
The loss of PILOT payments would devastate both the Dunkirk city government and the school system. The PILOT payments amounted to about 42 percent of the entire local revenue for the city, and about 30 percent of the local revenue for the school system. NRG is also the largest single taxpayer in Chautauqua County.
The loss of the NRG plant could result in tax increases to every resident, business and landowner in the entire county.
In a follow-up letter to Cuomo, Goodell noted that the NRG proposal to convert its coal plant to a highly efficient natural gas plant is entirely consistent with the objectives of the Energy Highway Task Force. Goodell noted that the proposal provides "an opportunity to facilitate a $700 million private sector investment in western New York, dramatically improve the environment, strengthen New York's economy, and reduce energy costs, while providing the reliable "quick start" base load production necessary to support an expansion of alternative wind power and solar power."
"This is truly a win-win proposal," noted Young. "It improves the environment, strengthens our local economy, creates jobs, protects the tax base, and facilitates alternative energy. It makes tremendous sense for New York state to support this project."
The Energy Highway Task Force report also supported "repowering of existing power plants to improve efficiency and protect the environment."
The report acknowledged that "[t]here are multiple pending power plant retirements in New York State where this (repowering) analysis can be immediately undertaken, including the NRG coal-fired Dunkirk facility"
County Executive Greg Edwards and his economic development team have also played an important role in supporting the NRG project, and made copies of the public petition in support of the project available at all county government offices.
Dolce, the city council members, Young, and Goodell are also encouraging everyone to sign the on-line petition as soon as possible at www.PowerUpWNY.com.